Reflection on self and how behaviour affects relationships

One of the most common reasons people seek to have counselling is that they are suffering to some degree with anxiety and/or depression/low mood.

Individuals will have different manifestations of the effects of their issues, but I thought I would write a few lines of what I see that in my view as a counsellor is a common thread which many people share, which prompts them to seek counselling.

The human psyche is made up of two equally important parts, a thinking and doing aspect (Thinking Self – TS) and a feeling and being aspect (Feeling Self – FS). It is important for our emotional and mental well-being to know that we have a responsibility to ourselves to acknowledge the importance of our FS before we behave (TS). 

However, very often with clients that seek counselling this aspect (FS) is overlooked which prompts them to act as if their feelings/wishes do not matter as the feelings of ‘others’ are more important. Just to clarify here - no one is suggesting that we all do not at times think of putting others first, of course, however if we are persistently acting as though ‘other people’s feelings are more important’ than our own then this lack of autonomy (and respect for ourselves) can cause us stress and/or more deep rooted problems as we await recognition from others to validate us.

You may feel that this resonates somewhat with how you behave, it maybe that it does not. However if you often find yourself saying yes when you really mean no or saying nothing when you really feel something then chances are this will affect, at best your mood at worst how you view yourself (ultimately your confidence and self-esteem). This way of treating ourselves can be extremely detrimental as the impact on our well-being can affect our relationships both professionally and personally. 

There are many reasons why we behave in this way (and far too many to go into here) however recognising that we maybe treating ourselves in this way can be the first step to change if we are experiencing stress, anxiety and/or low mood.

Ultimately we would all wish to be stress and anxiety free and wherever possible to maintain a stable mood, by taking the steps below we can take responsibility for trying to make that happen:

Step 1             

Look at my behavior – does what I do and how I act match with how I feel (what I want)?

Without this insight into oneself it’s impossible to change - if I have recognised that I do not often give my FS a voice and I mainly do what other’s wish and disregard (disrespect) myself I can try:

Step 2             

To alter how I act (from that above) to a behaviour that does not bypass my feelings but respectfully acknowledges them and takes them into account before I behave.

This altered behaviour is fundamental if there is to be a reduction in anxiety, stress and/or depression which can be brought about by this dysfunctional relationship dyad.

Knowing that I am responsible for everything I say and everything I do and that I am not responsible for what others say or do.

It is entirely possible for me to take responsibility for every aspect of myself and alter how I behave so I may experience a greater feeling of self worth…

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Dunmow CM6 & Harlow CM18
Written by Mind in West Essex
Dunmow CM6 & Harlow CM18

Denny Stranders
BACP Registered
Psychodynamic therapist

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